Cool off (and stay steady) with these low and no alcohol cocktails
Our books Spirited and Regarding Cocktails have some surprisingly refreshing inclusions
With temperatures climbing higher and higher, many of us in the US, UK and Europe will be looking for ways to cool off. If you're craving something sophisticated but want to avoid alcohol while the heat is on then why not try a low-alcohol or no-alcohol mixed drink? Just like the mercury, they're on the rise right now.
“Mocktails used to be an afterthought on the cocktail menu, often little more than juice or soda,” writes Adrienne Stillman in Spirited: Cocktail from Around the World, “but more and more drinkers are demanding low- and no-alcohol alternatives so that they can enjoy the social aspects of a night out without the booze.”
For teetotallers, she recommends a Carrot Spritz (above), “a non-alcoholic spritz from the Savannah outpost of The Fat Radish restaurant, which combines the sweet earthiness of fresh-from-the-ground carrots with spicy ginger.”
For this, you’ll need 3 oz (90 ml) of fresh carrot juice; 1 oz (30 ml) of Ginger Syrup; 3/4 oz (22 ml) of fresh lemon juice; a drop of vanilla extract; and 1 1/2 oz (45 ml) of ginger beer; as well as carrot curls and parsley sprig, to garnish. Combine the first four ingredients in a cocktail shaker without ice and dry shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Strain into a highball glass filled with fresh ice. Top with ginger beer and garnish with carrot curls and a parsley sprig.
Try Seedlip and Tonic as an alternative to a Highball
You can also create a teetotal Highball, by mixing Seedlip, a non-alcoholic distillate that approximates the botanicals in gin, with tonic to make a Seedlip and Tonic. For this you’ll need 2 oz (60 ml) of Seedlip; 4 oz (120 ml) of tonic water; and a lemon or lime wedge, to garnish. Add the Seedlip to a Collins or highball glass filled with ice. Top with tonic water and stir to combine. Squeeze the lemon or lime wedge into the drink and then drop it in.
For those still hankering after something just a touch harder, there’s the relatively low-alcohol cocktail, bamboo. This is a drier version of another classic cocktail, the Adonis, which was created by Louis Eppinger at the Yokohama Grand Hotel in Japan in the late 1800s. To mix this, assemble 1 1/2 oz (45 ml) of Fino or Manzanilla sherry; 1 1/2 oz (45 ml) dry vermouth; 2 dashes of orange bitters; and a lemon twist, to garnish. Combine all the ingredients in a mixing glass filled with ice and stir for 25–30 seconds, or until well chilled. Strain into a coupe. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Finally, for a soft drink that goes down as well with bartenders as it does with alcohol-avoiding barflies, try a Temperance Grapefruit Collins, created by the late, great Sasha Petraske founder of the New York City cocktail bar Milk & Honey. In our book, Regarding Cocktails, his friend Luis Gil reveals that, “This was Sasha’s favourite drink when he stopped imbibing for a few days each month. I recall him walking around Milk & Honey with a special pitcher of double-filtered water. ‘You’ve got to try this water. Exceptional!’ When he took a break from water—and spirits—the Temperance Grapefruit Collins was his standby.”
To make this, get together an ounce (30 ml) of fresh lime juice; a ½ ounce (15 ml) of simple sugar syrup; 2 ounces (60 ml) of fresh grapefruit juice; a splash of club soda, plus more for topping off; and a grapefruit wedge, for garnish.
Combine the lime juice, simple syrup, and grapefruit juice in a chilled cocktail shaker, add a few pebbles of ice just to chill slightly, and shake vigorously. Add the club soda, then pour into a chilled Collins glass and top off with more club soda. Garnish with the grapefruit wedge and cool off.